This month, Farm Stay U.S. is proud to feature Splendor Farms, a B&B, trail-riding facility, and licensed Dachshund kennel in Bush, Louisiana,
one hour outside of New Orleans. We recently interviewed owner
Kelly Bensabat and are excited to share her story. For more details
and to plan a stay, check out the Farm Stay U.S. Splendor Farms listing. Thanks
Bordelon Photography for the use of the photos below.
1. Could you tell us about the history of your
Through hard work and faith in my dreams, Splendor
Farms evolved from a family home with a horse into the bed and breakfast and trail riding facility we
have today. My husband, an attorney, and I, an insurance defense
paralegal for over 20 years, moved here in 1988 and raised our two
children here, but they didn't really live a farm life then other
than a garden and woods to play in. About 12 years ago, I decided
to breed my mare and build a barn for her. When the kids left for
college, I bought my first dachshund, then another, and another,
and then started showing and breeding. I was tiring of the legal
world and decided I wanted to show my dogs full time, give riding
lessons, and board horses.
Then Hurricane Katrina came and with all the misery it
brought, including my husband's heart surgery three weeks after the
hurricane. I decided life was too short -- the kids had graduated
from college by then and I had three empty rooms, so I decided to
open a bed and breakfast, but not the usual kind with antiques and
wine/cheese at check in. I wanted to be pet and kid friendly,
offering a farm environment with fishing and swimming, and the best
part, trail rides! Today we have a bed and breakfast, trail riding on over 1000 acres, and a licensed dachshund kennel.
I am in my 5th year of summer horse/farm camps and now do middle of
the month camps as well; for those monthly camps I work with
the parents so the camps are an incentive to make good grades; I
only let girls attend if they are making As and Bs in school, which
has helped some girls who were struggling academically to turn
around their grades. The summer camps host 8-10 campers at a time; the
campers get to do lots of riding, learn to cook, do chores, pick
veggies, fish, and compete in a rodeo on Fridays.
My next endeavor will be to build a couple of small
one-room camps, with baths and full kitchens, on the 2.5 acres
across from our home overlooking the creek. These will be
rented out for weekend stays, with day passes for trail rides,
fishing, and swimming available for the guests. They will be so
private that they will also be great "get away from it all"
2. Could you tell us about your
I have at any time as many as 35 to 45 head of trail
horses, boarding horses, rescuedthoroughbreds, andI still
have my old barrel mare, Star. She is 26 now and still
gets excited when she hears a gate clank, like in the arena.
We have several barn cats, so no mice! We have a couple of stocked
ponds for the guest to fish, on a catch & release basis. We
have chickens for eggs, guineas, pheasants, & turkeys for
gumbos, and a pot-bellied pig, along with milk goats and sheep. If
I could get my nannies to have girls instead of boys, we could make
3. Why did you choose to breed and raise
Dachshunds (long haired) are gorgeous dogs,
very smart and funny. They are small for your lap, but big with
loyalty. I love all hounds, but Dachshunds' different shape and
almost-shaped eyes are too hard to resist. The first time I saw a
Dachshund, I was in a stationary store, and when I took a seat, the
red pillow next to me moved and I jumped! I looked down and saw
these gorgeous brown eyes and long flowing red coat. I didn't even
know what kind of dog it was until the owner told me. Then, a week
later, I was at Louisiana Paralegal
Seminar in New Orleans, and during a
break I was walking through the hotel lobby and a lady came off the
elevator with two long haired black & tans on a double leash.
Their gait was just breathtaking for such short legs, and I was
hooked. I rescue many dachshunds from animal shelters and breeders.
Sometimes they simply show up in my neighborhood!
4. Do you have a favorite vegetable or fruit,
either to grow or to eat?
Strawberries and tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes, hands
down! We are lucky in Louisiana to be able to grow both in several
plantings almost year around. A greenhouse has been a great
addition to my food supply. We can start our tomato seeds in
December and plant in pots in February and in the ground in early
April, for early spring tomatoes in May. Strawberries are
wonderful, too. Two plantings a year, and they have more vitamin C
than oranges, plus they freeze outstandingly well.
5. What is the setting of your farm
Our farm is pastoral, with woods to explore and lots of
animals to visit. Our farm is prettier to most guests in the spring
and summer when the plants and flowers are out, but fall is my
favorite time! We may not have the foliage changes like up in the
northeast, but to me Louisiana is beautiful in the fall. It
could also be that after our hot summers, we are charmed by the
Our pool area is very nice and can feel very private, as
it's surrounded by hibiscus, but you can be floating in the pool
and look out and see beautiful horses grazing 100 feet away. We
have herb gardens and raised beds with seasonal veggies to
admire and when we have an abundant crop, we are more than happy to
let you pick some to take home with you.
6. What do most of your guests do during their
They walk around the farm, get to know the petting zoo
animals, pick veggies in high season, take a hike on the horse
trails through the 45 acres, trail ride after breakfast, read a
book on the patio, swim, fish the stocked ponds, or take a nap in a
hammock (my favorite when I have time!) They also get to
choose what they are going to have for breakfast the next
morning. Every guest gets a menu with four to five items to
choose from. No generic breakfast casserole is served in my dining
7. Your B&B includes three guest bedrooms - "The
Queens' Suite," "La Louisiane," and "Ponderosa." You also offer a
furnished guest apartment with six bunk beds. Could you tell us
about the décor and your decorating philosophy?
I wanted each bedroom to be different. The Queens' Suite is called that because two
people both think it's their room -- my mother and my best friend.
La Louisiane was the name of my favorite
restaurant in the French quarter. Lots of French people come to
visit us, and they love staying in that room. It's decorated in
purple, green, and gold, and full of Louisiana literature and
history. Ponderosa features wooden beams, and knotted
pine paneled walls, and it opens on screen porch. It is our most
rustic room, with a Texas Cowboys and Indians theme since I'm from
Texas. The Bunkhouse is our family accommodation; it
sleeps up to 10, with bunk beds, and a pullout bed.
My decorating philosophy is really about comfort. I use
1000+ thread count sheets, down comforters, and thick towels. We
iron all the sheets. It's luxurious even though you're on a farm.
We also offer flat-screen TVs, DVD players and board games. There's
so much to do here!
8. Anything more you'd like to add?
I am very blessed to be living my dream -- being in
the country, surrounded by animals, cooking for people, decorating
for the seasons, and having a very wonderful husband and children
who support my dream and like my mother-in-law told me, "You have
vision! I am so proud of you!" I am proud of me, too,
and of Splendor Farms!